Living Life as a Learner

The Importance of the Sales Basics


When it comes to successful sales, the basics are key. If you don’t get the basics right

you’ll find sales a hard and unfriendly place – unresponsive, difficult customers with little to say and not much by way of conversation (let alone sales!)

There are fundamental skills to sales and without them, the process grinds to an uncomfortable and unavoidable stop. So what are these basic fundamentals? Well, they aren’t rocket science: they are what they say on the tin – basics – but don’t underestimate them because of their apparent simplicity. Even the most skilled sales person needs to keep these fundamentals sharp, fresh and current.

1. Rapport
2. Questioning
3. Listening

1. Rapport – I heard someone say recently ‘rapport selling is dead’! A bold statement and in all honesty, a worrying one! Yes, the modern customer is a different beast and yes, they have more control and choice than they have ever had but at whatever stage the sales person joins the buying process, the ability to create and maintain good rapport remains key. I still believe that customers buy from people they like, those who make them feel at ease and create a sense of familiarity and relationship. In my book, rapport remains at the heart of good salesmanship.

2. Questioning – so how good a questioner are you? When asked, people generally score themselves highly with experienced sales people confidently giving themselves a 10 out of 10! A simple question exercise often reveals that when under pressure, we tend to revert to bad habits: questions become closed, the atmosphere tenses and the conversation reaches that awkward moment: salesperson thinking ‘speak for gods sake!!!’ and the customer thinking ‘please ask me a question that will let me talk!’

Ability to ask questions and knowing how to ask the right questions are not the same thing. A child can ask a good open question (generally ‘why?’) but the skill is hidden in knowing how to ask the right questions to cut through to the heart of the matter and find that kernel of customer need. Next time it feels like you’re having to work ridiculously hard for very little information ask yourself one simple question – ‘how good we’re MY questioning skills at that moment?’

3. Listening – listening often falls into the same boat as questioning ‘yea, yea – got that!!’ We are listening every second of every day … or are we? Well, we’re certainly hearing but listening is a different matter. I choose to listen – I can zone in and out of a number of listening options at any given moment and I can listen a lot faster then people can talk. Lazy listening (official word ‘passive’) is little more than hearing. Active listening takes as much energy and concentration as speaking. They say that every customer wears an invisible sign saying ‘make me feel special’ and the quickest way to achieve that is to pay them the ultimate compliment – listen, actively and demonstrably.

Like I said, none of this is rocket science but even the most technologically advanced rocket in the world won’t fly without the basics like fuel! Trying to get a sale going without the fundamentals is like trying to launch a rocket without fuel – futile!

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